Taking a Trip With Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Mr.-Peabody-and-Sherman

Nothing will cause me to become skeptical quite like taking a long silent beloved childhood memory and giving filmmakers a gargantuan budget to revive it. It’s the trend though, so what are you going to do, right? Primarily it’s fairly easy to ignore these Frankenstein’s monsters, particularly when it’s something like Peabody and Sherman. These two characters were regulars on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Rocky and Bullwinkle was the example of low budget cartoons. They were given a chance at a big screen adaptation a while back. It was terrible. This is actually the third feature film to stem from that little show, come to think of it, with Dudley Do-Right being the other. Dreamworks has been a power-house for decent animated movies lately, so I went to the local library and borrowed a copy. It was a very good family film. And I don’t use “family film” in the sense that it was cranked out solely to babysit children placed in front of a screen. The jokes and visuals are juvenile enough to captivate a young audience, while the plot and even more jokes will certainly keep everyone else engaged. The movie takes head on subjects such as adoption, fitting in and bullying in a way that is funny, it’s essentially the perfect segue to discuss these topics.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman follows the life of Mr. Peabody, a brilliant dog that never fit into his societal mold. This is primarily because he can talk and is essentially the smartest creature on the face of the planet. He adopts a baby named Sherman, which he raises and takes on adventures through time with his “wayback” device. The conflict of the movie happens when Sherman ends up biting someone on his first day of school, calling into question Peabody’s ability to raise a human child. In an effort to smooth things over, the Bully’s parents are invited over for dinner. Naturally the two children end up using the time machine and end up on an adventure through time.

While more or less a typical animated feature, the movie manages to shine at particular points. For one thing it’s nice to have Danny Elfman providing the score. the music adds the level of whimsy that the movie deserves. The writing is also pretty entertaining. If Mr. Peabody is trying to prove he’s a good dad, he certainly does so simply by the amount of puns he uses. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. The writing is sharp and witty to the point where it is both easy to understand and not compromising the intelligence of the audience. Ty Burell manages to give surprisingly accurate life to the spirit of the Peabody character. But it’s Max Charles who voices Sherman that really blew me away. The timing and tone was dead on, a truly perfect voice for the character.

This movie wasn’t anything spectacular, to be certain. However it was a good movie, and sometimes that’s what you need. Not every animated movie is going to be Spirited Away or Toy Story, but that’s fine. This was a movie that did just about the best that it could, and it was just what a Peabody and Sherman movie should have been; short, sweet and pretty darn funny.

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I watched some movies last year. This is them.

So, I tried something new in 2014. I kept a record of every movie I watched (in it’s entirety) this year. Since so many people are doing their favorite movies of the year posts, I thought I would just throw out this batch and call it a day! I have watched 105 movies this year, some of them repeated. The list is organized in the order that I watched them.

Exit through the gift shop
Robin Hood (Disney Animation)
Conviction
West Side Story
The conjuring
Muppet Treasure Island
Zero Dark Thirty
Oblivion
The raid redemption
Pacific Rim
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Stardust
The Lego Movie
42
The Purge
John Cater
Spirited Away
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
The Croods
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Brave
Waking Ned Devine
Frozen
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
The Thing (2011)
X-men: first class
X-men Origins: Wolverine
X-men
The  Princess Bride
Mean Girls
The hole
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
What’s Up Doc
In The Name of the Father
Speed Racer
X2: X-men United
X-men: The Last Stand
The Wolverine
Ender’s Game
Legend of the Drunken Master
The Amazing Spider Man 2
Yobi the Five – Tailed Fox
X-men: Days of Future Past
12 Years A Slave
Godzilla (2014)
Much ado about nothing (2012)
The Jungle Book
Dear Mr. Watterson
Cowboys & Aliens
Dear Zachary
Captain Phillips
Akira
World War Z
Buried
Escape From New York
Saving Mr. Banks
Hook
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
The Intouchables
Old School 
Mama
Tales from Earthsea
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Battered Bastards of Baseball
Snowpiercer
The Sandlot
The Patriot
True Grit (2010)
Shanghai Knights
Guardians of the Galaxy
Stripped
My Cousin Vinny
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Scoop
The Lego Movie
Let Me In
Muppets Most Wanted
Network
The Neverending Story
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
White House Down
Batman Begins
Silver Linings Playbook
The Haunting (1963)
Fantasia
Anaconda (Rifftrax)
A Knights Tale
Fantasia 2000
Joseph : King of Dreams
The Taking of Deborah Logan
Interstellar
Wreck it Ralph
The Hunger Games : Mockingjay
Holiday Inn
Scrooge (1970)
The Incredibles
Mary Poppins
The Wind Rises
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Singing in the Rain
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
An Affair to Remember
Annie (1982)

Alternatives to 2012s Top Grossing Movies

Without a doubt, 2012 had plenty of entertaining movies with mass appeal with which to slop the hoard of cinephiles and assuage their glutton for moving pictures. The box office stats certainly show a trend in the types of movies that people enjoy watching, and it was absolutely no surprise. Action/adventure seems to always get people out to the theaters, particularly those originating from comic books and consisting of monumentally large budgets. I thought it might be fun to take a look at the top 5 grossing films from this year and pair them with lesser seen alternative films that compliment them quite nicely. I will admit that at the time of writing this list I have not seen the 3rd and 5th top grossing movies from this year, so my recommendations will be educated guesses..

5. Ice Age: Continental Drift 

As I mentioned before, this is one of the films I didn’t see this year. Having seen two and a half of the previous Ice Age films, I think I have a pretty good idea of what this one was all about. These movies are pretty much the animated kiddie staples for the box office; giving parents a few hours of respite from their little monsters while offering as little artistic value as possible. It’s for this reason I recommend my favorite animated movie of the year ParaNorman.

ParaNorman could easily be viewed as an animated sequel to The Sixth Sense. It follows a young boy named Norman who is the only one in his town capable of seeing and communicating with the dead.  When a curse summons a group of zombies from their graves, it’s up to Norman to stop the carnage. It’s essentially a “my first zombie movie”, in that it presents horror movie themes and scenarios in a childlike and visually fun environment. Paring excellent voice acting with interesting and engaging animation allows it to be engrossing both visually and through its narrative.

ParaNorman_Poster

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit was my favorite movie of 2012, and I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. It was the best fantasy movie I’ve seen in years. Everyone pretty much knew what to expect going into this due to the wild success of The Lord of the Rings and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

There is another fantasy movie that features a young and unlikely hero embarking on a quest of immeasurable importance (come to think of it there are probably thousands of fantasy films with the exact same basic premise.) The Dark Crystal is a film that is often referred to, but rarely seen. Jim Henson created a fascinating world filled with a ridiculous amount of puppets. Behind the scenes are probably twice as many people controlling these same puppets. Henson created some of the best creatures on film which is part of what makes The Dark Crystal so intriguing. It’s darker than anything The Muppets have starred in and not as lighthearted and “fun” as Labrynth offering a side of the Henson legacy that is rarely seen.

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3.  Skyfall

Skyfall is one of the movies that I really regret missing. I have every intention to see it when it’s released on DVD and Blu-Ray, however for this post I’ll have to refer to my knowledge of past Bond movies and recommend based on what I know. When figuring out what movie to recommend with Skyfall I eventually thought about some things that make the bond character so enjoyable to watch. Bond is a skilled assassin, he’s able to adapt to different situations and environments and he’s able to keep his head when he’s in terrible danger. The titular character in the movie Hanna shares many of these qualities with one major difference. She’s a 15 year old girl.

Hannah is trained by her ex CIA father to be a skilled assassin from the age of two. Throughout the course of the film we see her put various skills to use as she’s on the run, hunted by the CIA. The movie takes cinematic liberty, treating us to exciting and visually unique action and chase sequences. The story can be a bit confusing at times, but the dead-on character acting from everyone involved makes it well worth the watch.

Hanna_poster

 

2. The Dark Knight Rises

 

This was another movie that I really loved. As a matter of fact, there are few Batman movies I don’t like (namely Batman and Robin) so I’m going to cheat a little bit and offer up another of the Dark Knight’s many cinematic tributes.

Batman the Animated Series is fantastic. They provided excellent quality cartoons that, although kid-friendly, certainly didn’t shy too far from the source material. The series produced a number of feature length movies, among them was Mask of the Phantasm. The film used the signature dark style of the series which used black paper as a starting background for the frames in lieu of white to maintain that same dark feel. In this film, Batman is blamed for the deaths of numerous crime bosses, the murders are actually being committed by another masked and caped vigilante. This puts Batman in a position that forces him to save and protect his enemies while keeping his own demons at bay.

Batman_mask_of_the_phantasm_poster

 

1. The Avengers

I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has seen The Avengers; Marvels all star masterpiece was the highest grossing movie of the year. Joss Whedon delivered a super hero tour de force that left the entire world impressed with what he accomplished. For this reason I want to recommend another movie written and directed by Joss Whedon: Serenity.

The differences between Serenity and The Avengers is staggering. One is based on a successful comic book empire, preceded by dozens of movies over the past few decades culminating in the mega-blockbuster that was The Avengers. and then there is Serenity; a film that almost wasn’t made, continuing a TV show that was cancelled with only 14 episode completed. Still, Firefly (the television show that preceded the movie) and Serenity gained a large cult following. The show had a fairly simple plot, it followed a band of guns-for-hire that took whatever jobs they could, legal or otherwise. It was a fun mixture of the Science/Fiction and Western genres. The movie was a chance to both tie up loose ends and wish the loyal fans of the franchise a well deserved goodbye. There is no need to see Firefly before Serenity (I hadn’t even heard of Firefly) though it may make it more enjoyable. The catchy-sometimes-corny  dialogue and ever-so-slightly melodramatic tones create a dramatic mixture of sci-fi, comedy and adventure that feels like Indiana Jones in space.

Serenity_poster